How Channel 4 is recutting TV shows for Snapchat

U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 is treating Snapchat as more than a marketing vehicle for its linear TV shows and investing more in content for the platform.

The broadcaster currently has five Snapchat Shows, including “First Dates Hotel” and “Celebs Go Dating,” which are recut versions from its linear programs. Channel 4 cuts TV show clips between three and five minutes long and that don’t need context for its Snapchat Shows. Channel 4 has several more TV shows that it plans to recut for Snapchat, including “Tattoo Fixers,” on the way.

For Channel 4, Snapchat has worked well as a marketing vehicle, driving audiences to its shows on linear and video-on-demand platform All 4, said James Smart, social media manager at Channel 4, speaking at the Snapchat IAB Upfronts event in London, Oct. 1.

“Increasingly, the more exposure we get with social audiences, the more viewing is happening on our longer-form linear and video-on-demand content,” said Smart. “It’s a marketing opportunity for Channel 4. With linear viewership shrinking due to more competition, we need to put out content where the audience is.”

More investment in programming specifically for platforms marks a change in view for Channel 4. The broadcaster will produce series specifically for Snapchat (and other social platforms) as part of its Digital Content Unit, announced earlier this year. Out of this, it plans to make a seven-figure investment in original commissions specifically aimed at 13- to 16-year-olds.

Snapchat’s strong retention rate particularly is appealing for Channel 4. According to Smart, across its current Shows, it’s getting on average between 40% and 50% completion rate, roughly 50% longer on Snapchat than on other platforms.

One U.K. Show publisher, who made the switch to unskippable ads over the last year, saw revenue lifts driving three times the amount of monthly revenue. But broadcasters, with ample video content and stable and buoyant revenues from linear businesses, have been warier of putting full or exclusive content on social media platforms to avoid cannibalizing their TV ratings.

Snapchat is pulling more budget from Facebook and YouTube, and while YouTube still causes anxiety, the curation of Snapchat is a comfort. Snapchat particularly offers more of a safe harbor for broadcasters who are more used to brand-safe and highly regulated broadcast environments.

Snapchat is heavily expanding its slate of Shows in the U.K., as well as recently commissioning a new slate of Snapchat Originals including, “Mind yourself,” a 10-episode documentary series exploring mental health from Barcroft Studios,  early in 2020. The platform is keen to open up more inventory in Shows to sell more six-second unskippable commercials and three-minute commercials, whose first six seconds remain unskippable, to make more of a play for video and social marketing budgets.

But it will need to remain choosy and thorough with what appears on the platform as it opens up to more content. Currently, all Shows go through editorial curation by Snapchat’s team, then commissioned Shows to get notes on how content will resonate and how appropriate it is within the platform’s editorial guidelines.

“We by no means approve everything,” said Tom Conway, Europe, the Middle East and Africa content lead at Snap.

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